Login/Join

Mental Illness on Death Row

Discussion
Mar 3, 2010
by: Isabelle
    Today in religion class, my group and I were assigned to research the role of mental illness in capital punishment cases. I was blown away by some of the statistics and stories I encountered.

It is conservatively estimated that 5-10% of death row inmates suffer from serious mental illness. (If we expand the definition of mental illness to include severe physical or emotional damage) research has shown that nearly all Death Row inmates suffer from brain damage due to illness or trauma, while a vast number have also experienced histories of severe physical and/or sexual abuse. Mental Illness on Death Row

You don't have to be a psychiatrist, Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis says, to know that something was terribly wrong with Ricky Ray Rector, who before his execution in Arkansas ordered his last meal and asked that the pecan pie be set aside so he could have it later. Damaged Brains and the Death Penalty

We are potentially prosecuting and imposing punishment that cannot be reversed on people who may or may not understand their crime, the consequences, and the judicial process. Proponents of the death penalty sometimes say that the death penalty is meant to teach perpetrators and society as a whole that certain crimes are completely unacceptable, but what good is that if the criminal doesn't even fully understand what is going on?

 

Comments

Isabelle, I completely

Submitted by alyssabird14 on Thu, 2010-03-04 14:34.

Isabelle,

I completely agree with you, especially when you said "but what good is that if the criminal doesn't even fully understand what is going on?" A lot of times when I watch the news or read the paper and there is a story about someone getting arrested who is ill in some way, I wonder when it's considered fair to lock of criminals with mental illnesses. While I don't want them to be running around on the streets, there are some cases where the crimes were complete accidents and, like you said, the criminal doesn't even realize what he's doing. I really don't think those with mental illnesses belong on Death Row.

Isabelle, You bring up a

Submitted by npuoy on Fri, 2010-03-12 23:50.

Isabelle,

You bring up a great point about inmates on death row. I am against the death penalty especially the execution of mentally ill people who, like you've said, "may or may not understand their crime, the consequences, and the judicial process. We've talked a lot about the death penalty in my peer ministry class as well. There were a couple of studies done that presented the correlation between death penalty and crime rate. There was no such correlation. Capital punishment does not deter crime.

Another thing I want to add on is the fact that it costs a lot more to put someone to death, than it is to keep them in prison (life and no parole).

Anyways, putting someone to death for a crime he or she has no clear understanding is not acceptable.

Thanks for a great post.

Nyakuiy